Entertaining expert Aaron Hartselle stole our hearts last Valentine’s Day- remember this popular party?? When he told us he was planning an event inspired by the natural elements of autumn, we made sure to score an invite. With natural wood, gilded leaves, and a perfect playlist setting the mood- this is an event we’ll never forget. We sat down with Aaron to get all of his entertaining tips:

What was your inspiration for the event?
The location is an urban farmhouse tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. I was inspired by the rustic-modern feel of the home and wanted to create a fall-inspired look to complement the aesthetic. The light and airiness throughout provided a perfect backdrop for pops of white, green, and hints of gild and glitz. The tablescape is minimal, yet impactful, with a wood and succulent sculpture taking center stage. I carried the botanical theme onto the place settings with these amazing acrylic menus and preserved fern underlay. Fall is all about bringing things back to nature, but I love the juxtaposition of the natural vs. unnatural materials used.

It turned out fresh & unique- one of the best fall tablescapes we’ve seen! You’re obviously a pro, so tell us- what is your entertaining mantra?
For me, entertaining involves engaging all of your guest’s senses. Beauty lies in acute attention to detail. Set the tone with music, create a cohesive visual experience, and enhance the feeling of your theme with befitting food and drinks.

Drinks & music can make or break a party, don’t you think? What was the signature cocktail?
1/2 cup apple cider
3 oz brandy
3 oz apple brandy (applejack)
1/4 cup ginger beer
Cinnamon sticks for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour in apple cider, brandy and apple brandy. Shake until well chilled and strain into festive glassware. Top each glass with ginger beer for some effervescence and garnish with cinnamon sticks.

Cheers! And the music playing in the background?
Forever, HAIM
Sleeping Ute, Grizzly Bear
Pain Au Chocolat, JHAS
Indian Summer, Blood Cultures
Sweet Talk, Jessie Ware

I notice a few DIYs. How did you create the gilded leaves?
I purchased paper leaves from the seasonal craft section at Michael’s and then used gilding sheets to create a metallic layer. The process is super easy!

STEP ONE: Using a foam brush, apply a thin coat of craft glue to the surface

STEP TWO: Carefully lay the gilding sheet to the surface, keeping the wax-backing sheet towards you. Press and smooth gilding sheet to the surface, rubbing gently. Repeat this process for until you’ve achieved a desired amount of coverage.

STEP THREE: Allow to dry one to two hours, then using a foam or gliding brush, brush over the surface to remove the excess gilding.

STEP FOUR: Apply a layer of spray enamel to seal the gild.

Seems like such a breeze! Where did you utilize the DIY within the decor?
These leaves beautifully harmonize with a fall tablescape, could add some flair to a serving tray, or would even be great as coasters. The same gold leafing technique was used on the stump in the iron fireplace as well as the on the cider bottle. Using gold leaf on elements throughout the party allowed me offset the farmhouse rustic with a bit of glam.

Any other DIY tips?
The wood stack near the stairs is an effortless and inexpensive way to create a strong visual statement. Using birch or any other type of wood you fancy, create a focal point near a staircase, under a console table or nestled in a fireplace. By painting the ends of random pieces in the stack, it adds an artful and modern look to the natural material.

Last but not least, what are the TOP 5 TIPS you’d give our readers for creating the perfect tablescape?

1. Assess the materials you have and build a foundation with a statement piece. This could be a flower arrangement, sculpture or even an epic table runner.

2. Create a cohesive color story and pattern mix.

3. Incorporate elements of various heights and proportions, but be mindful of your guest’s sight lines.

4. Add layers of varying texture for visual interest.

5. Don’t over style or clutter the table. Sometimes it’s better to take one thing off. Right, Coco?


Design + Styling: Aaron Hartselle
Photography: Jen Simon
Menus + Place Cards: Bliss & Bone
Calligraphy: Anne Robin
Florals + Wood Sculpture: La Petite Gardenia
Pie: Bottega Louie
Glassware: Vintage, purchased from Bar Keeper Silverlake
Dishware: David Stark for West Elm
Wooden Chargers: Enrico
Location: A private home in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles